Monday, May 27, 2013

Sam Adams To 2013 USA: Worshipping Military Leads To Loss Of Liberty

Today, in the New York Times, a retired Army General and a Stanford historian, presented a case to bring back the military draft.

They argue, not unreasonably, that the current professional military—or standing army as the Founders would have called it—is creating a dangerous rift between the soldiers and citizens. Chiefly, the writers contend, the military experience has become a trade known only to a few families, and which is handed down over generations:
“Here are the makings of a self-perpetuating military caste, sharply segregated from the larger society and with its enlisted ranks disproportionately recruited from the disadvantaged. History suggests that such scenarios don’t end well.”
What they mean by this is that such an arrangement encourages loyalties (for example to commanders) amongst the military caste that are insular, and not aimed at protecting the nation, the citizens, and the Constitution. The soldiers may eventually come to view the citizens as dependents, requiring their protection and thus owing soldiers unquestioning deference and even obedience. And the Constitution, as we have already seen, comes to be viewed as a hindrance to efficient operations of war.

The writers quote Samuel Adams (the Founder, not the beer company) in this regard:
“A standing Army, however necessary it may be at some times, is always dangerous to the Liberties of the People. Soldiers are apt to consider themselves as a Body distinct from the rest of the Citizens.”
The writing this is taken from a letter Adams sent to James Warren, a general in the Massachusetts militia. Adams was expressing concern, as the Continental Army was being developed, that professional soldiers as opposed to citizen militias, would be “dangerous to the Liberties of the People.”

Adams noted the following concerns about men who chose the professional of arms:
  • They have their Arms always in their hands.
  • Their Rules and their Discipline is severe.
  • They become attached “to their officers and disposed to yield implicit Obedience to their Commands.”
All those things, viewed as necessary to create an effective military, were seen by Adams and other Americans as things that should “be watched with a jealous eye”, in other words with an eye jealous of keeping one’s liberty against a state which would use the permanent military to steal away the freedom of the citizens.

Adams also warned of a tendency he saw in the citizens, even in 1776, and which has now grown to a point that would no doubt disgust Adams and his fellow Tea Partiers (the real ones, not the idiots who have usurped that name and who would ape the very behavior Adams finds deeply threatening):
“And even Citizens, having been used to admire the Heroism which the Commanders of their own Army have displayed, and to look up to them as their Saviors may be prevailed upon to surrender to them those Rights for the protection of which against Invaders they had employed and paid them. We have seen too much of this Disposition among some of our Countrymen.”
As noted, if Adams thought there was too much disposition to view soldiers of the tiny Continental Army as saviors of liberty, to the extent the people might surrender their liberty to the very soldiers hired to protect it, imagine what slaves he would count the sheeple of the modern USA, who spend mountains of rhetoric (and several national holidays) affirming the super-patriotic worthiness of the handful of Americans poor enough and dumb enough to be the permanent swords and bayonets of the Empire.

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